18 Oct 2010

Party to adduce evidence for relief: Supreme Court

We had written earlier about a Supreme Court judgment that no decision would be rendered in the absense of effective assistance from the counsels of the parties. Recently the Supreme Court has passed another judgment [Ritesh Tewari v. State of U.P.] to the effect that it is the obligation of the parties to adduce evidence in order to obtain relief. Reflective of a typical adversarial system of judicial system (as contrasted from an inquisitorial one), the Supreme Court has categorically pronounced that the mandate for success rests upon the diligence of the parties in adducing evidence to their support.

The Court explained this obligation of the parties in the following terms;
19. It is a settled proposition of law that a party has to plead the case and produce/adduce sufficient evidence to substantiate his submissions made in the petition and in case the pleadings are not complete, the Court is under no obligation to entertain the pleas. In Bharat Singh & Ors. Vs. State of Haryana & Ors., AIR 1988 SC 2181, this Court has observed as under:-
"In our opinion, when a point, which is ostensibly a point of law is required to be substantiated by facts, the party raising the point, if he is the writ petitioner, must plead and prove such facts by evidence which must appear from the writ petition and if he is the respondent, from the counter affidavit. If the facts are not pleaded or the evidence in support of such facts is not annexed to the writ petition or the counter-affidavit, as the case may be, the Court will not entertain the point. There is a distinction between a hearing under the Code of Civil Procedure and a writ petition or a counter-affidavit. While in a pleading, i.e. a plaint or written statement, the facts and not the evidence are required to be pleaded. In a writ petition or in the counter affidavit, not only the facts but also the evidence in proof of such facts have to be pleaded and annexed to it."
(See also Vithal N. Shetti & Anr. Vs. Prakash N. Rudrakar & Ors., (2003) 1 SCC 18; Devasahayam (Dead) by LRs. Vs. P. Savithramma & Ors., (2005) 7 SCC 653; Sait Nagjee Purushotham & Co. Ltd. Vs. Vimalabai Prabhulal & Ors., (2005) 8 SCC 252; and Rajasthan Pradesh V.S. Sardarshahar & Anr. Vs. Union of India & Ors., AIR 2010 SC 2221).
The present appeal definitely does not contain pleadings required for proper adjudication of the case. A party is bound to plead and prove the facts properly. In absence of the same, the court should not entertain the point.
21. Where a party’s claim is not founded on valid grounds, the party cannot claim equity. A party that claims equity must come before the court with clean hands as equities have to be properly worked out between parties to ensure that no one is allowed to have their pound of flesh vis-à-vis the others unjustly. (vide: Sikkim Subba Associates v. State of Sikkim (2001) 5 SCC 629).
22. In Andhra Pradesh State Financial Corporation v. M/s. GAR Re- Rolling Mills & Anr., AIR 1994 SC 2151, this Court observed:- 
“Equity is always known to defend the law from clefty evasions and new subtelities invented to evade law.”
23. In M.P. Mittal v. State of Haryana & Ors., AIR 1984 SC, 1888, this Court held:
“…….it is open to the High Court to consider whether, in the exercise of its undoubted discretionary jurisdiction, it should decline relief to such petitioner if the grant of relief would defeat the interests of justice. The Court always has power to refuse relief where the petitioner seeks to invoke its writ jurisdiction in order to secure a dishonest advantage or perpetrate an unjust gain.”
24. This Court in State of Maharashtra & Ors. v. Prabhu, (1994) 2 SCC 481 considered the scope of equity jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution and pointed out as follows:
“It is the responsibility of the High Court as custodian of the Constitution to maintain the social balance by interfering where necessary for sake of justice and refusing to interfere where it is against the social interest and public good.”
25. The present appeal does not present any special feature warranting exercise of equitable discretionary jurisdiction in favour of the appellants. The equity jurisdiction is exercised to promote honesty and not to frustrate the legitimate rights of the other parties.

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